The Story Grid Quotes

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The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne
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The Story Grid Quotes Showing 1-30 of 42
“if your Story doesn’t change your lead character irrevocably from beginning to end, no one will deeply care about it. It may entertain them, but it will have little effect on them. It will be forgotten.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“Change, no matter how small, requires loss. And the prospect of loss is far more powerful than potential gain. It’s difficult to imagine what a change will do to us. This is why we need stories so desperately.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“When human beings are faced with chaotic circumstances, our impulse is to stay safe by doing what we’ve always done before. To change our course of action seems far riskier than to keep on keeping on. To change anything about our lives, even our choice of toothpaste, causes great anxiety. How we are convinced finally to change is by hearing stories of other people who risked and triumphed. Not some easy triumph, either. But a hard fought one that takes every ounce of the protagonist’s inner fortitude. Because that’s what it takes in real life to leave a dysfunctional relationship, move to a new city, or quit your job. It takes guts, moxie, inner fire, the stuff of heroes. Change, no matter how small, requires loss. And the prospect of loss is far more powerful than potential gain. It’s difficult to imagine what a change will do to us. This is why we need stories so desperately.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“What we do or don’t do when we face conflict is the engine of Storytelling.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“Stories change people.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“Whether you know it or not, your desire to write comes from the urge to not just be “creative,” it’s a need (one every human being on earth has) to help others. A well-told Story is a gift to the reader/listener/viewer because it teaches them how to confront their own discomforts.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“STORY distilled is…HOOK, BUILD, PAYOFF. That’s it.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“the thriller is the dominant Story form today because it serves the largest segment of society, those overwhelmed by the threats of modern life.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“Two-thousand-word scenes/chapters are potato chip length. That is, if you are about to go to bed and you’re reading a terrific novel and the scenes/chapters come in around two-thousand-word bites, you’ll tell yourself that you’ll read just one more chapter. But if the narrative is really moving after you finish one of these bites, you won’t be able to help yourself reading another. If the Story is extremely well told, you’ll just keep eating the potato chip scenes all through the night.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“A great editor sees the Story globally and microscopically at the same time. He has x-ray vision. He looks down from thirty thousand feet. A great editor can break down a narrative into themes, concepts, acts, sequences, scenes, lines, beats. A great editor has studied narrative from Homer to Shakespeare to Quentin Tarantino. He can tell you what needs fixing, and he can tell you how to fix it.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“There's no shame in not knowing something. There is only shame is when you willfully ignore and then blame the educated for your failures.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“What The Story Grid offers is a way for you, the writer, to evaluate whether or not your Story is working at the level of a publishable professional. If it is, The Story Grid will make it even better. If it isn’t, The Story Grid will show you where and why it isn’t working—and how to fix what’s broken.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“If you’ve ever seen the movie Spinal Tap, I think you know where we should try and reach by the end of our crime Story.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“These circumstances are called CONFLICTS. What we do or don’t do when we face conflict is the engine of Storytelling.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“So if your Story doesn’t change your lead character irrevocably from beginning to end, no one will deeply care about it.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“Remember that the first rule when editing a book is to DO NO HARM.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“The Story isn’t working quite yet. It’s close, but it’s vaguely disappointing.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“You as the writer are not the problem, the problem is the problem.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“Once you have a first draft, you’ll need to inspect each of the units of your Story and make sure you’ve used the right materials.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“And of course there is that Sub-sub-subgenre that will never go away, the cat mystery where a cat is instrumental in solving the crime.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“Do you know what an editor does? I don’t either. All I know is it’s make-or-break, do-or-die, indispensable, can’t-do-without, gotta-have-it. But there’s one problem: Editors don’t exist any more, at least not in the grand Old School sense.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“There's no shame in not knowing something. The only shame is when you willfully ignore and then blame the educated for your failures.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“As with crises, climaxes move from minor to medium to large to life changing. In a Story with both External and Internal Genre dimensions, if faced with the similar crisis in the Beginning Hook and the Ending Payoff, what your protagonist chooses at the beginning of your Story and what your character chooses at the end of your Story should be opposite choices.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“Justice prevails, life is precious, love is sublime…we need to get these messages from our stories or we despair.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“Why does Lecter have such an affinity for Starling? I think it’s because Lecter and Starling share the same malady. Lecter figured out his problem a long time ago and chose the life of an Uberman, a Nietzsche figure parsing out his own sense of justice, while tormenting the simpletons around him for sport. Lecter is chronically angry too. We never do learn what drives Lecter’s behavior. Thankfully. Not knowing is so much better. But Lecter has dispensed with magical thinking. He understands that his inner voices are unrelenting and therefore he considers himself “of them” as opposed to “apart from them.” He’s identified himself with the darkness inside and expresses that identity with aplomb.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“You didn’t nail it perfectly on the first draft (who does?) but don’t throw these “not working” scenes away or try and fix them yet. You need to see the full picture as an editor to make specific decisions later on.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“So if your Story doesn’t change your lead character irrevocably from beginning to end, no one will deeply care about it. It may entertain them, but it will have little effect on them. It will be forgotten. We want characters in stories that take on the myriad of challenges to change their lives and somehow make it through, with invaluable experience. Stories give us the courage to act when we face confusing circumstances that require decisiveness. These circumstances are called CONFLICTS. What we do or don’t do when we face conflict is the engine of Storytelling.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“Remember that readers and viewers are very discerning and sophisticated (just think about how much Story the average person consumes each day from the newspaper to websites, emails, television shows, books, heart to heart talks with their friends etc.).”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“To know the rules of the Story Business and of the Story Craft gives you the freedom to break them.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
“External conflict is the sizzle that gets bottoms in movie seats and books on bestseller lists. As consumers, we have concrete expectations of these Genres as we’ve all been exposed to thousands of them since birth. Again, Genre conventions and obligatory scenes satisfy those expectations. While a reader/viewer may not be able to pinpoint what exactly it is they want from a Story, they know it when it’s not there. Immediately.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know

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